Dataxis debates on shared infrastructure resources for lower video costs with Irdeto and Red Intercable

As part of its digital events scheduled for 2021, Dataxis held the webinar ‘Sharing infrastructure resources to lower video costs’, which took place last Thursday, March 25th, and was sponsored by Irdeto. Industry executives selected by Dataxis to star in the webinar were Gus Rojo, Intelligence Analyst at Irdeto; Fabian Di Cicco, CEO at Red Intercable; and Breno Fleuri, Infrastructure Specialist.

Regarding what actions can be implemented by pay TV operators to reduce the workload at its headends through the use of remote administration services, Rojo reported that ‘traditional broadcasts have been aligning with IP infrastructures in recent years, and video formats have focused on IP. These changes make the management and remote control of video traffic much easier, removing the need for permanent staff at the broadcast facility. IT procedures allow easy and secure access to broadcasting equipment, which, in turn, promotes remote work’, said the executive, and later added that ‘video processing has become software defined in the last few years, which means that processing takes place on commercial hardware, and FPGA-based hardware is no longer a necessity, as it was 10 years ago. External operators can currently optimize the use of processing hardware by making the hardware process more operators in less chassis, something that Pay TV operators cannot necessarily do, since they require a minimum number of hardware chassis for their services. and enough support. To do this, Pay TV operators can hire the processing to third-party platform operators, independent of the Pay TV operation, who have technical video specialists who must understand the complexities of video processing. It is necessary to think that entrusting the video infrastructure to a third party allows operators to concentrate more on the content and on clients, and much less on the infrastructure.

‘Pay TV has some important challenges to face. The issue of security, encryption and content protection is key and is at the heart of our business; as well as the possibility of operating all this efficiently is also a challenge, but we are getting to make this feasible in an efficient way’, assured Fleury, to later add that another of the great challenges focuses on the possibilities of moving 100% from infrastructure and processing capacity to the cloud. ‘The initial cloud model was designed for something different from what we require in pay TV, especially in the processing of the volume of the video content itself’, said the executive. ‘Something that I would recommend in this analysis is the intelligent architecture of a mixture of public cloud with private cloud (hybrid cloud), so that the expensive part of the auto-trafficking is carried out on premise, with the use of a mix of public and private CDN, to minimize traffic costs in relation to this. Definitely, the model is starting to make sense, mainly if we are aligned with a group of companies with the aim  of using virtualization and cloud technologies and economies of scale for the pay TV market’.

Regarding the possibility that pay TV operators decide to share certain elements of their video infrastructure to reduce CAPEX and OPEX costs, Di Cicco reported that ‘from the operator’s side, we see that the sharing of infrastructure between competitors is a reality throughout the video value chain, either for economic convenience, as well as because there are technologies that allow this to be the case. Red Intercable has recently announced an agreement with one of the main telcos in Argentina (Telecom Argentina), in which it shares its OTT infrastructure and, at the same time, provides services in different common areas of the country’, said the executive. The platform was launched in November 2020. ‘The point is that there must be advantages for all parties involved. There must be clear rules of use, it must be possible to share the initial investment and then sustain it over time; or some economic or strategic incentive for whoever makes the investment. In addition, it is key to run agreements with technological partners that can give us all those tools that guarantee us a shared operation, with the necessary assurances so that there is the greatest possible transparency in this sharing’. Also, according to Fleury, ‘the data we see from operators migrating their physical or dedicated infrastructure to the cloud shows between 40% and 50% annual savings, depending on the size of the project, in a three-year business plan’.

‘At Irdeto we have an end-to-end managed services portfolio, which includes compression, conditional access and managed networks, VOD, OTT; and each with different OPEX and CAPEX options. In addition, Irdeto is owned by MultiChoice Group, the largest pay TV operator in Africa and one of the largest in the world, with more than 20 million subscribers. Irdeto’s managed services team has more than 30 years of experience managing MultiChoice Group’s broadcasting networks, which includes all the already mentioned services, and other additional ones’, said Rojo. In addition, in the case that an operator entrusts Irdeto with the administration of its headend, the executive explained that ‘with a sub-hired platform, the entire operation of the specific platform, be it conditional access (CAS), compression, broadcasting or others, is delivered to the service provider (in this case, Irdeto). The points of responsibility will be defined very clearly: the service provider takes responsibility for the service from a defined point of transference, and a defined service to the customer at a defined point of transference is given back. At MultiChoice, we are responsible for conditional access from the point where the subscriber management system exchanges information with the conditional access system, and we give back encrypted services to MultiChoice that belong to the subscriber management system’s rules’. 

According to Di Cicco, ‘issues related to rights and content, in addition to the issue of content piracy, is totally critical for us. We have all experienced piracy for years and we continue to combat it, and since the birth of the cloud, piracy has grown exponentially. That is where we need companies that are dedicated to working on security levels, from the content generation until it is received by the end user, and, in turn, also on different devices and routers. Despite the available technological tools to combat piracy, all this must be implemented together with laws to stop it, but technology provides a controlled environment that is not shown in the legislation’, the executive ended.